FRIENDS, family and former football stars packed into St Maxentius Church in Bradshaw for the funeral of Wanderers legend Roy Hartle, who died earlier this month at the age of 83.

A host of former team-mates turned out to pay their respects to the popular player who made 499 appearances for the Whites, during which time he was captain and a member of the 1958 FA Cup winning side.

The funeral heard stories about Mr Hartle, nicknamed "Chopper", and how he was a tough-tackling full-back on the pitch, but a “perfect gentleman” off it.

In an emotional tribute, his son, Russell, said: “To me he was my taxi, my cash machine and my safety blanket, but most importantly he was my dad and my best friend — I could always count on him to be there.

“Our family will never be the same. We have lost our captain, but the memories we have will never fade.

“I hope Nat and the lads will be waiting for you up in heaven dad because that is where you belong.”

Speaking about his former team-mate and friend, ex-Wanderer Syd Farrimond said: “Roy always treated training like it was a league game — and you only went past him once.

“He was a battler right to the end and the respect he earned is shown by all the people here today — players, friends and supporters.”

Mr Hartle, a father, grandfather and great grandfather, had recently celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife Barbara and guests heard how the two had got married in St Maxentius in 1954, before travelling to Blackpool by bus for their honeymoon.

Rev Ian Smart of Harwood Methodist Church read a passage from the Whites star’s diary from his wedding day, which simply stated: “Day off, got wed.”

Joining the many former Wanderers players at the funeral was club chairman Phil Gartside, who came to pay his respects.

Club chaplain Phil Mason explained how the Whites will pay their own respects to Mr Hartle with a private ceremony at the Macron — where a room is named after him.

His ashes will be scattered and a special tribute programme will be produced at the next home game against Huddersfield on November 29.

Speaking after the funeral, former team-mate Warrick Rimmer said: “Roy was a gentleman but you wouldn’t mess with him.

“He spoke perfect English and was a real tough player, but the main thing I remember is how he always made time for the younger players.

“Roy was well established in the team when I got there and he helped us with coaching and always kept us in line — he taught me things that I took and and used for the rest of my career.”

John Byrom, who signed just after Mr Hartle had left the club, said: “He was still training with us while he got himself fixed and he was a belting fellow.

“He was an honourable man and always interested in you — everybody liked Roy.”

Mr Hartle was born the youngest of 10 children at Catshill in the Midlands and began his career with local side Bromsgrove Rovers.

He signed amateur forms for Bolton when he was 16 years old while doing his national service in Oswestry and signed professional forms for the club in 1952.

After a glittering career with the club, he spent a year coaching the New York General in the fledgling NASL and was later a chief scout at Bury.